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October 29, 2014

affiliates in the news- November 2014

Congrats to these Affiliates making news! Each month we highlight Affiliate-Smithsonian and Affiliate-Affiliate collaborations making headlines.  If you have a clipping highlighting a collaboration with the Smithsonian or with a fellow Affiliate you’d like to have considered for the Affiliate blog, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee.

Poverty Point State Historic Site (West Carroll, Louisiana)
Poverty Point to celebrate World Heritage Site designation Saturday
According to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, Poverty Point is the 22nd World Heritage Site in the United States. Dardenne’s office states that Poverty Point was the U.S. Department of the Interior’s lone nomination for world heritage status-adding to the site’s accolades as a National Historic Landmark, National Monument and Smithsonian Affiliate. 

George Catlin, Buffalo Chase, Bulls Making Battle with Men and Horses. 1832-1833, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.

George Catlin, Buffalo Chase, Bulls Making Battle with Men and Horses. 1832-1833, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.

Mennello Museum of Art (Orlando, Florida)
Mennello Museum opens final exhibits in 15th-anniversary season
The Mennello Museum of American Art is wrapping up its 15th-anniversary year with two exhibitions that opened Oct. 3…The two new exhibitions are “George Catlin’s American Buffalo,” on loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and “The Taos Society of Artists,” an original exhibition curated by museum executive director Frank Holt. The exhibitions run through Jan. 4, 2015.

The Majesty of the Buffalo, Captured on Canvas [16 Images]
In Great Falls, the exhibit was received enthusiastically, and the museum saw an uptick in attendance. “We’re delighted to have this quality of an exhibition from the Smithsonian,” Burt said, adding that the scenes provided Native Americans with “a great opportunity” for insight into their ancestors’ lifeways and the scenery of the plains.

space-center-houston-smithsonianSpace Center Houston (Houston, Texas)
Space Center Houston is 1st Smithsonian Affiliate in Houston
Space Center Houston is now a member of the Smithsonian’s crew. Space Center Houston, which serves as the official visitor center for NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas, is officially the first museum in Houston to be named a Smithsonian Affiliate.

Another giant leap for Space Center Houston
In a giant leap toward preserving the history of space exploration, Space Center Houston became the city’s first Smithsonian Affiliate on Oct. 8

Witte Museum (San Antonio, Texas)
Witte Museum announces Smithsonian partnership
We purposely waited to become a Smithsonian Affiliate because we’re in a great transformation right now at the museum and we thought it would be the perfect way to say we’re a top-tier museum,” said Marise McDermott, Witte Museum president and CEO.

Witte now a Smithsonian affiliate
The Witte Museum is now a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate. As a member of the program, the Witte will be able to borrow objects from the Smithsonian’s permanent collection and tap into its resources. “It’s such a great time for the Witte to have an affiliation,” said Marise McDermott, president and CEO of the Witte, who will announce the affiliation at a news conference this morning. “Before we were so focused on growing our campus, and now we’re ready to integrate with a national museum.”

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Berkshire Museum (Pittsfield, Massachusetts)
Smithsonian Leaders Hail Berkshire Museum SparkLab Partnership
“We think that real innovation will happen in this space,” according to Claudine Brown, Assistant Secretary of Education & Access at the Smithsonian. “Every SparkLab is different, and this one is architecturally beautiful.”

Spark!Lab is hands-on science at Berkshire Museum
Berkshire Museum Executive Director Van Shields said, while tinkering on his own Snap Circuits project, that Spark!Lab will “stimulate the kind of creativity and innovative thinking that was the beginning of the journey” of bringing the museum into the 21st century.

biomuseoThe Biomuseo (Panama)
Biomuseo Showcases Panama’s Ecological Diversity
Panama, the Biomuseo proclaims, became a “bridge of life” (the title of its permanent exhibition) and a fountain of biodiversity. Just a bit bigger than Ireland, it has more species of birds, amphibians and animals (if insects are included) than the United States and Canada combined, according to George R. Angehr, a research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. (The Biomuseo is an affiliate of the Smithsonian, which along with the University of Panama helped develop its scientific content.)

Wondrous or hideous? Frank Gehry-designed natural history museum opens to fanfare in Panama
A natural history museum designed by famed architect Frank Gehry opened in Panama City this week. The Biomuseo — a project first conceived nearly 15 years ago and hampered by all kinds of issues — welcomed in the public for the first time Thursday.

Idaho Museum of Natural History (Pocatello, Idaho)
Asian Pacific American History exhibit on display at IMNH
Asian and Pacific Americans make up more than five percent of the U.S. population—more than 17 million people—and those numbers are growing. Their ancestral roots represent more than 50 percent of the world, extending from East Asia to Southeast Asia, and from South Asia to the Pacific Islands and Polynesia. In commemoration of this important history, “I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story” opened at the Idaho Museum of Natural History (IMNH), on September 20 and will run through November 30. “I Want the Wide American Earth” was created by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). The exhibition is supported by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Smithsonian exhibit heads to local museum
“It’s pretty exciting because we are a Smithsonian-affiliated museum…and we only get it for ten weeks so it’s here before it heads-off to California, so unless you are planning on traveling to California, you won’t get to see it,” Tews said.

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August 29, 2014

where the buffalo roam

On Saturday, August 30, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo will bring back the American bison in a new exhibit and habitat.  Zora and Wilma are not only beautiful animals, but they also serve as an important reminder about conservation and the Zoo’s inception. In 1887, American bison wandered the National Mall, helping to bring awareness to the endangerment of the species. Two years later, Congress passed legislation to found the National Zoo, celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

Bison roam around the Smithsonian Castle

Bison roam around the Smithsonian Castle, 1887-89

At Affiliations, we are wallowing in the excitement of welcoming these magnificent animals to Washington. So we decided to scan our herd of partners, to see where else the mighty American bison are roaming among Affiliate plains. We found a virtual stampede of bison content in Affiliateland!

– It seems appropriate to start in Wyoming, at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. After all, it was “Buffalo Bill” Cody who offered the Smithsonian a herd of 18 bison in 1888. Painfully, the gift had to be refused for lack of space on the National Mall.  But today, you can find plenty of bison material at the Buffalo Bill Center in Cody. The Center’s museums house an impressive collection of art depicting “Nature’s Cattle,” including beautiful Audubon prints as well as Native artifacts made from the bison, and natural history specimens.

"Scout" at the Durham Museum in Omaha.

“Scout” at the Durham Museum in Omaha

– It was a Nebraska rancher who donated the very first bison to the Smithsonian’s collection, so it seems natural to travel on to Omaha to visit “Scout,” the beloved bison on view at the Durham Museum. At 7 ½’ high and 10’ long, this magnificent specimen helps to tell the important story of the Midwest’s history with the bison. As part of their bison interpretation, the Durham Museum uses the online resource Tracking the Buffalo from the National Museum of American History. Go ahead – take the site’s interactive test to guess what you could make from all the parts of the animal.

–  Some bison though, were revered beyond all that they could provide for Native people. A white bison is extremely rare, appearing once in approximately five million births. For this reason, these animals are considered sacred and possess great spiritual power to Native and non-Native people alike. Given this extreme rarity, where could you ever see one now?! The Montana Historical Society in Helena displays “Big Medicine,” a white buffalo who died in 1959. With blue eyes, tan hooves, and a brown topknot, there’s still plenty of reasons to revere the beauty of this extraordinary specimen today.

"White Medicine" on view at the Montana Historical Society

“Big Medicine” on view at the Montana Historical Society

– As rare as Big Medicine is, perhaps no bison has the hometown spirit of “On the Wind,” the massive bronze bison who greets visitors to the History Colorado Center in Denver. He’s been seen wearing bandannas when the stock show comes to town, a Broncos jersey during football season, and even a bike helmet during the recent Pro Challenge cycling race through the state. He’s also an important reminder of the stories told inside the Center about the historic relationship between bison and the peoples of the West.

– To travel even further back in time, check out the archeological remains of a gigantic Ice Age bison at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Excavated from the Colorado Rockies, this iconic specimen and its neighbors represent one of the most significant fossil discoveries ever made in Colorado.  How gigantic was it?  Twice the size of a modern bison!  How do we know?  It had a horn spread more than 7’ wide (compared with the 2 ½’ spread of the modern buffalo).

HistoryCObison

“On the Wind” in Denver reflects the community

– If you’re finding it hard to imagine the size of a modern bison without actually seeing one, the South Dakota State Historical Society can help you out.  They’ve devised a fun 30-page coloring sheet called How Big is a Buffalo. Bison make quite an appearance in the Society’s education kits, which include objects, lesson plans, worksheets and ideas for additional activities. The Buffalo and Plains Indians, Lewis and Clark, and Archeology kits are just a few that explore all facets of this great American species.

– Lest you think the Affiliate bison only roam west of the Mississippi, think again.  The Mashantucket Pequot Museum in Connecticut is currently displaying The Bison: American Icon exhibition, which explores “the dramatic changes that occurred to the bison and its habitat, and to the people who depended on it for their daily existence.” At the end of September, the Museum invites visitors to take the Bison Challenge – an outdoor activity that will test your speed, strength, and senses against the performance of a bison.  Good luck!

Bison: American Icon exhibit on view at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum

The Bison: American Icon exhibit on view at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum

As the song goes, “oh give me a home… “  It’s gratifying to see how many Affiliate “homes” across America celebrate the iconic bison, and that the Smithsonian will soon provide two of them a home in the nation’s capital.

How does your museum interpret the mighty bison? (We’re looking at you Idaho and Oklahoma)  Tell us your stories!

 

(Footnote:  “bison” and “buffalo” are often used interchangeably.  Culturally this is correct; scientifically it is not.  Technically, bison and buffalo are not the same animal. Click here to compare their differences.)

 

buffalomeThe author is a National Outreach Manager in Smithsonian Affiliations, and a long-time buffalophile.

 

 

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